Tell Your Worries to Take a Hike (Literally)

Photo Take a Hike

Mud; that’s all I remember about my first hiking experience. It was not a pleasant one (read “Coming Clean on a Dirty Little Secret: My First Hike Fiasco”). That’s the beauty of being a late bloomer; being just a tad behind the curve allows me the opportunity to watch and learn from others.

Years later, when Mr. Wiz* invited me to join him on the Camino, I had a decision to make. Do I stay behind, afraid to try something out of my comfort zone? Or, do I join him on this adventure and walk 500 miles through Spain? After some research, I decided that if pilgrims had been walking the Way of Saint James to the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela (where tradition has it that his remains are buried) since medieval times, this was something not to miss.

I still remember the day the REI salesperson tied me into my first pair of hiking boots. As I stood at the top of that mountain, I felt positively giddy; no matter that it was the four-foot plastic mountain in the middle of the shoe department.

Walking for 33 days changes you; with nothing to be concerned about except your immediate surroundings, life slows down. It’s amazing what can go on while your feet are moving. Spending hours watching them maneuver rocky paths cleans out all those cobwebs in your brain. Sharing stories and feelings with someone you’ve just met exhilarates you. Walking in silence is meditation in motion.

The sounds of rustling leaves, rushing water or a bird singing, the feeling that comes from taking a big deep breath on a cool day and that wonderful ache you feel from pushing your body just a little bit more; this is Mother Nature’s way of putting her arms around you.

Too much wild life can take its toll. Let’s try to balance the party animal in us all with some tranquility. Being down to earth rewards us with the mental, spiritual and physical aspects of life that we might have missed out on, had we not stopped to smell the roses.

So, when all else fails, get out there and walk! Worries and stress are no match for flora and fauna. Uncomplicate those complications, hop over those hurdles, break down those barriers; it’s amazing how solutions can miraculously appear if you just let your feet lead the way and take one step at a time.

 

*Who’s who? See “Cast of Characters” on the “About” page.

 

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How to Huff and Puff and Blow Your Stress Away

Contrary to popular opinion, the big bad wolf was a soft-spoken yoga enthusiast with laser sharp focus. Unfortunately, for the three little pigs, his focus was on them. Nevertheless, there is something to all that huffing and puffing. Breathing in until your nostrils stick together, then blowing the air out with all the force you can muster not only gives you a powerful feeling, it may also knock down a house made of sticks. Breathing is the essence of yoga and is believed to control your body, mind and emotions.

The American Institute of Stress suggests that instead of zoning out in front of the TV, the best way to combat the damaging effects of stress is to practice breathing deeply. It elevates your heart rate, forces your lungs to take in more oxygen and helps you to expel more carbon dioxide. In some cases, deep breathing exercises are able to be substituted for conventional medical treatment of stress-related disorders. Giving your heart a good workout cannot only change how you feel, but how you look. Keeping stress at bay can make you look and feel years younger.

Why not give it a try; what have you got to lose? The next time you have too much on your mind, something keeps nagging at you, you don’t get enough sleep or you can’t seem to focus- try huffing and puffing. You will feel an instant release. Plan to work it into your daily schedule for a few minutes a day with a goal of 15 minutes. No time? Try multi tasking; I like to do it while I am exercising.

Deep breathing is effective for any age, it’s free and you can practice it anywhere. Since the way you breathe affects your whole body, it’s a formidable way to change your life. Who knows? Had the three little pigs taken the time to clear away their mental cobwebs and de-stress, would they have been back in the real estate market researching mortgage options?